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Injured OL Rod Johnson remains at Florida as player-coach

Some of sports' saddest stories involve sudden endings, where an accident halts a promising athletic career.

USA Today's Nicole Auerbach documented one such story over the weekend when she explained how a practice collision with a teammate ended Florida offensive tackle Rod Johnson's career.

After undergoing a battery of tests -- he lost all feeling immediately after the hit, although it soon returned -- Johnson was diagnosed with congenital cervical spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that leaves the spinal cord vulnerable against an awkward blow. He would risk paralysis if he continued to play the sport.

The bright side of the story is that Jim McElwain's coaching staff expects Johnson to remain active in the program. He will serve as a player-coach during the season, which could potentially lead to a career in coaching if he discovers that the profession suits him.

Perhaps some good can come out of Johnson's tragic injury after all, even if nobody wants to see it happen like this. The Gators certainly would have benefited from having their most experienced offensive linemen on the field this fall, but at least he can keep working with his teammates and help the younger linemen pursue NFL dreams that ended for Johnson with one freak accident.